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Track and field: Today, a true track test

LES KNUTSONDaily Globe STILLWATER -- Back for the seventh consecutive year, the Luverne Cardinals girls' track and field squad is again competing for a State True Team championship.Joining the Luverne girls at Stillwater this morning for the elit...

LES KNUTSON
Daily Globe

STILLWATER - Back for the seventh consecutive year, the Luverne Cardinals girls’ track and field squad is again competing for a State True Team championship.
Joining the Luverne girls at Stillwater this morning for the elite event, sponsored by the Minnesota State High School Track and Field Coaches Association, are the Pipestone Area boys - who like the Cardinal gals - qualified for the state meet by winning the Section 3A True Team title at Pipestone’s Paulsen Field on May 9.
Today’s nine-team Class A state meet - eight section champions and one “wild card” runner-up - begins at 10 a.m. at Stillwater High School where the event has been held for the past several years.
Luverne’s girls are no strangers to the State True Team meet, having won a trio of Class A titles and finished among the top three a whopping total of nine times. The Cardinals were state champions in 2008, 2010 and 2014. They finished second in 1989, 2009 and 2013. LHS was third in 2007, 2011 and 2015. In 2012, the Cardinals were fifth and they were sixth in 1992.
Pipestone Area’s boys qualified as a wild card in 2010 and surprised the eight sectional champions by emerging from the State Meet with the True Team championship.
“It’s an honor to represent Section 3A at the State True Team Meet,” said Arrows’ head coach Todd Tinklenberg. “The competiton in our section is so tough that it should prepare us well for the state meet. It was a goal we set at the beginning of the year and it’s great to be able to live out the dream.”
Loaded on the track with quality performers in nearly event, the Arrows were challenged by both Luverne and Murray County Central in the section meet. PA tallied a winning score of 699.5 points, while LHS had 662 and MCC scored 658.5.
Senior sprinter Eli Stevens and multi-purpose sophomore Tyl Woelber (jumps, hurdles, relays) each won three events in the section meet and they lead a talented group of Arrows who have combined their skills to win lots of meets this spring.
Joining PA today at Stillwater will be section champions Pine Island, Minnesota Valley Lutheran, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, Montevideo, Frazee, Moose Lake/Willow River and Norman County, along with wild card entrant Holdingford.
“I really haven’t looked at how we stack up against the other teams,” Tinklenberg said. “My philosophy is for us to perform our best and then see what it happens. We can’t control or predict how other teams run or move their lineup around. We are strong in most of the running events.”
Luverne’s girls had an easier time winning the Section 3 title, racking up 746 points. Southwest Christian/Edgerton (593) and Pipestone Area (585) finished a close second and third in the 13-team meet held on a cool, rainy day.
Veteran LHS head Craig Nelson, who is retiring at the end of this season, predicts a very close state meet.
“I think this will be one of the closest True Team State meets that we have competed in,” he said. “Blue Earth Area, the defending champion, is loaded again. Osakis, Lake City and Holdingford all look very solid, too. We feel confident that we can compete with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if this comes down to the last race.”
The last girls’ race - the 4x400-meter relay - is scheduled for 2:15 p.m.
Trinity School, Frazee, Pierz and Park Rapids Area are the other four teams competing in the Class A girls’ meet, which opens on the track with the 4x800-meter relay at 11:00 a.m. - an hour after most field events get under way.
Both the Luverne girls and the PA boys are loaded with talented depth, which is what it takes to be successful in True Team competition - which scores every single place, unlike a traditional meet which usually counts just the top eight places in each event.
The unique True Team concept, intended to measure the overall strength of a team, was designed by the State Track and Field Coaches Association and was first implemented in the spring of 1987.
Each team is allowed two entrants in each of the 14 invididual events and one relay in each of those four races. Not having a participant in an event is a real loss of potential points.
In today’s nine-team meet, a first-place individual performance will be worth 18 points, with each place scaled down a point all the way to 18th place being awarded one point. Relays count more, scaled down in nine three-point increments from 27 for first place to three points for ninth.
The more teams there are competing, the higher the scores are. In a nine-team meet, the winning score is usually around 400 points.
Last year, the top three girls’ teams were Blue Earth Area (399), Holdingford (393.5) and Luverne (379.5). The top three boys’ teams in 2015 were Holdingford (413), Maple Lake (388) and Pine Island (375.5).

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